(Warning: Slings & Arrows is intended for mature audiences, and depicts people acting immaturely, including potty mouthery and conjugal content.)
For those with cable: The Sundance Channel has started airing SLINGS & ARROWS again; if you act fast, you can watch the three season Canadian show from the beginning – “Oliver’s Dream.”
I have only seen the last two seasons until now, and eager to catch up from the beginning.
In part because it hearkens back to my life in the theatre: the show is about a Canadian Shakespeare company, trying to make art and make the rent at the same time.
The series quite accurately captures the life of the non-profit theatre, from the artistic temperament (in the first ep, the diva apologies to the cast for interrupting notes to make a demand about her character, an apology undercut with an acerbic, “I’m sorry… that I care”), to the managerial temperament of those in charge of paying the bills (again from the first ep, I chuckled in recognition when the managing director gleefully finds someone who agrees that show business “is a business after all”).
But what truly elevates this series is its ability to capture the ephemeral; it is the closest I’ve seen on any sized screen at capturing the unrepeatable magic of live performance.
Just witness the magic of Geoffrey’s opening speech in episode one, as he waves a toilet plunger around, while making the argument that a theatre doesn’t need phones (and the magic of theatre takes over… almost).
The show is designed for only three seasons – allowing the creators to have a specific beginning, middle and end; and giving the series a very complete arc/journey for the protagonist, Geoffrey (as well as all of the main characters).
Each season centers around one major play being presented by the company – which also represents each leg in Geoffrey’s journey as a human being.
Season one is about HAMLET, the story of a young man trying to find his place in the world that threatens to tear him apart.
Season two is MACBETH, a man in the middle of life torn between the expectations of his love and his own blinding ambition.
Season three is KING LEAR, a king having achieved success, going through madness to try and find what in life has real value.
Note what all three characters have in common: they all deal with insanity. Which plays rather heavily in SLINGS & ARROWS plot as well.
Polonius says of Hamlet: “Thou this be madness, yet there be method in it;” the same is true of the design of the television show.
But I think more appropriate than the bard is Seneca’s take: “There is no great talent without an element of madness.”
And there is plenty of madness in SLINGS & ARROWS.
Just my thoughts,